By Melissa C. Water
Talking about Tourette syndrome shouldn’t have to feel like a confession. It’s nothing to apologize for, and nothing to feel remorse over.
It’s a big shift when the tics first show up at our door. There’s no welcome mat for Tourette syndrome, but perhaps there should be. While it can feel embarrassing, and some reactions tend to increase that impression within us, there are routes to self-acceptance that don’t have to take a lifetime to achieve.
We may feel inclined to push for a child to advocate about their condition, when in truth, it’s not about pushing, it’s about inspiring.
A few prepared words can speak for us but the hope is one day we find our voice and our place. We are neuro-unique. Let’s prize that, highlight it, and we will find the words to describe ourselves without needing to rehearse the reasons for our differences.
Someone once walked away from me and my tics in a store, pretending not to know me. I could have focused too much on that memory but what made me feel accepted were those who let me know that they were with me, and that my tics didn’t bother them, but that, in fact, their experience was only made better by them.
If I’m a child and I’m going to have the confidence to speak out without the fear or shame that comes so naturally, then I need to be shown and made to understand that I’m accepted not only for myself, but for the little beeps and bumps that come with me. Perhaps it’s not about learning to list the symptoms of my Tourette but to absorb how my unique capabilities are actually enhanced by my condition. I need to know it’s not a bad thing, and that those who love me are not put off by my tics as they only add to the person I am.
I would hope to be imparted the sentiment that I do not stand alone, and that when those in my surroundings learn about my tics, they do not see me differently, but more completely.
It’s not about making Tourette into a show-and-tell, but to encourage a love of oneself that includes the tics, and that isn’t in spite of the condition, but made greater by it.
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